Category Archives: Ethics

Accountability to whom? #collegemedia leadership thoughts

The student leaders at my new college media home could teach seminars on collaboration and accountability. In the absence of a full-time adviser for almost a year, the five department heads who form the executive board of Georgia Southern University Student Media ran a twice-a-week newspaper and four once-a-semester magazines, produced digital extras, recruited and trained new staff — and met twice a week (at 8 a.m.!) to make sure it all got done without inter-departmental warfare. They squarely and calmly settled disagreements and called each other on unmet commitments.

It’s because they are so good at this that I can afford to think mostly about another question as I prepare to train future leaders of our program. Yes, it’s absolutely critical that college media leaders be accountable to each other. To whom else do we owe accountability?

I’m thinking about framing this as internal vs. external accountability. Here’s my first pass at defining those external constituents:

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#collegemedia Thanksgiving turnabout: Do we deserve our audience’s thanks?

This Thanksgiving, why should our college media audience be thankful for us?

Permit me to offer three reasons — and to encourage you to think about how well you’re earning each category of appreciation from the members of your audience.

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Let’s improve college media coverage of rape, domestic violence

I’m happy to be among of group of College Media Association members who will sponsor a meeting at the New York convention March 10 to discuss coverage of rape and domestic violence.

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Let’s talk at NYC13!

Your humble blogger will lead five sessions at the National College Media Convention, better known as NYC13, March 10-12 at the Sheraton New York. Here’s my schedule:

9 a.m. Sunday, March 10: Tough Interview? You Can Do It! Does your stomach ache at the thought of interviewing the college spokeswoman who always criticizes you? Or the campus police chief who doesn’t welcome your analysis of crime statistics? Or the student who just lost a loved one to combat or a tornado? Learn how to do these interviews while respecting your subjects — and yourself. Room: Liberty 1&2.

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Covering body image and eating disorders — carefully

Lady Gaga reacted to criticism of her weight gain by posting photos of herself in her underwear and saying she had overcome an eating disorder and learned to have a positive body image. Then a television anchor took on a “you’re fat” insult head-on.

If you’re like me, those stories make you think about talking to students on your campus about body image and eating disorders. Unlike me (probably), you don’t have a daughter who’s a social worker. These are complicated issues, she told me. She also told me about “Brave Girl Eating,” a book by Harriet Brown, associate professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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Writing with voice — or, observation vs. opinion

Sometimes we call it “voice.” Sometimes we call it “writing with authority.” It’s hard to define, but the basic idea is that sometimes a storyteller puts aside attribution and standard journalese and just speaks directly to the audience. If you want great storytelling in your student media operation, you’re going to wind up wrestling with it. So let’s go to the mat, shall we?

“Biden pauses and takes a breath. You think he’s finished. Foolish you.” 

With that line in a New York magazine profile of Vice President Joe Biden, writer John Heilemann signals that he’s telling you a story, not an executive summary. Would you allow this at your college newspaper? I suspect most of you would.

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Cheating — and other academic stories

“Roughly 62 percent of undergraduates and 40 percent of graduate students admit to having cheated on written work, according to the latest figures from a long-running national survey by Clemson University’s International Center for Academic Integrity. The infractions range from cut-and-paste copying to buying a custom-written paper from an essay mill.”

I was astonished when I read that in The Chronicle of Higher Education last year. Maybe you college editors weren’t. At least I don’t see much about cheating in student media today. I think it’s a heck of a story, and I think it can lead to exploring why your readers even bother to go to college in the first place.

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